Vblank Entertainment and Brian Provinciano are no strangers to open world chaos. They proved their chops with Retro City Rampage, and with Shakedown: Hawaii, they’re back again. Only this time, things look better, bigger, and much more chaotic. The game is out now for PS4, Switch, PS Vita, and PC, with a Nintendo 3DS release still to come, and shortly before it released, we sent across some of our questions about it to Provinciano. Read our conversation below.
NOTE: This interview was conducted before the game’s release.
"As I wrote the story satirizing consumer life, the characters and missions simply evolved from there. As I played in the world, ideas for gameplay grew organically. For example, “Wow, shooting a flamethrower from a go-kart is fun! I should try to build a mission around this!”"
How extensive is the destructibility of environments in Shakedown: Hawaii?
Pretty much everything is destructible. For the most part, the only exceptions are the buildings themselves, and walls around the perimeter of interiors.
Shakwdown: Hawaii’s open world that players can wreak havoc in seems conceptually familiar to GTA titles (especially the old school ones), but it looks like the game is putting its own interesting spin on that concept. Was it part of your vision from the get go to build something along those lines?
GTA3’s impact on the open world genre and video game industry as a whole can’t be understated. It planted the genre firmly into new territory, and I’d say that GTA3 influenced the modern era of gaming as much as Super Mario Bros. influenced the 8 and 16-bit eras. However, at this point, I just see the open world genre as a medium to build a story and game on top of. I approached Shakedown as a blank canvas. As I wrote the story satirizing consumer life, the characters and missions simply evolved from there. As I played in the world, ideas for gameplay grew organically. For example, “Wow, shooting a flamethrower from a go-kart is fun! I should try to build a mission around this!”
How large can players expect the game’s map to be?
I estimate the overworld is about 3X larger than Retro City Rampage’s, 4X if you include interiors and other areas, but even more than that, it’s far more interactive with much more to do, more depth, and hidden areas to explore.
Being an open world game, can we expect Shakedown: Hawaii to have plenty of side activities and missions?
Absolutely. It had the main story mode, as well as over 80 shops to shakedown in any order, sidequests, mini games, customization, secrets, and an entire empire building metagame.
"I have a massive color-coded spreadsheet with columns galore that I used to layout exactly how things would flow and ensure there was steady gameplay variety, and the multiple playable characters and antagonists were threaded throughout."
Can you speak about the nature of these activities and what they will offer in terms of variety?
Yes, ensuring there was a lot of mission variety was important. I have a massive color-coded spreadsheet with columns galore that I used to layout exactly how things would flow and ensure there was steady gameplay variety, and the multiple playable characters and antagonists were threaded throughout.
About how long can we expect the game’s average total runtime to be?
It’s hard to say, as I’m the developer and know the game inside and out. However, it takes me 4X-5X longer to speed run than Retro City Rampage did when testing.
Shakedown: Hawaii’s satirical take on corporations and big business is looking like a very interesting aspect of the experience- is that going to be much of a focus in the game?
Yes, it’s the core of the game’s story, and the situational comedy throughout. It pokes fun at the common frustrations we deal with as consumers, but in a playful, tongue-in-cheek way.
As an indie developer, what is your take on the Nintendo Switch, which seems to have become a haven for ambitious indie titles?
I honestly love all platforms. It’s definitely a great platform to develop for though, and the submission process is relatively smooth.
Do you have any plans to launch on Xbox One?
It’s possible in the future, but I chose to just release it on the platforms that the previous game had already been on, for launch. This allowed me to focus on the game, and less on porting and paperwork, as all the groundwork was already done.
"I look forward to playing with PS5 hardware once I can get my hands on it, but haven’t followed the details too closely yet, as I’ve been too busy wrapping up this launch."
How will the PS4 Pro version turn out in terms of resolution and frame rate?
It runs at 60 fps on all PS4 systems, and scales up the pixels crisply on both.
The PS5 specs were recently revealed in an interview with Wired. What are your thoughts on that?
I look forward to playing with PS5 hardware once I can get my hands on it, but haven’t followed the details too closely yet, as I’ve been too busy wrapping up this launch.